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Economy in Brief

U.S. Employment Cost Index Gain Accelerates With Greater Benefits
by Tom Moeller  October 28, 2011

The employment cost index for private industry workers rose 0.4% in Q3 for total compensation versus an unrevised 0.8% Q2 jump. The Q3 increase fell short of expectations for a 0.6% rise as compiled by Bloomberg. The four-quarter gain of 2.2% remained near its highest since Q4'08.

Private sector wages & salaries grew a firm 0.4% (1.7% y/y). Amongst occupational groups, wages in financial activities increased 2.7% while professional & business services grew 2.1% y/y. Workers in the information sector posted a steady 1.8% y/y while those in education & health increased just 1.3%. In the factory sector wages rose an improved 1.8% but in education & heath they remained up a low 1.3%. In the government sector, state & local workers saw wage growth fall to a record low 1.0% y/y, down from the 2007 high of 3.6%.

Benefit costs ticked up just 0.1% and the four-quarter gain slipped to 3.4%. Yearly gains amongst industry groups fell broadly including a 4.3% y/y gain for factory workers and 3.3% for those in service occupations. Management, professional and related workers saw a 3.4% gain while state & local government workers increase of 2.4% was a record low.

The employment cost index figures are available in Haver's USECON database.

ECI - Private Industry Workers (%) Q3'11 Q2'11 Q1'11 Q3 Y/Y 2010 2009 2008
Compensation 0.4 0.8 0.5 2.2 1.9 1.4 2.9
 Wages & Salaries 0.4 0.5 0.4 1.7 1.6 1.6 3.0
 Benefit Costs 0.1 1.6 1.2 3.4 2.6 1.2 2.5
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